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Government sets voluntary calorie reduction targets

The government is encouraging restaurants and takeaways to make voluntary calorie reductions in a bid to provide healthier food and drink choices for consumers and to support the national effort against COVID-19 and obesity.

New guidance published by Public Health England recommends a 20% calorie reduction for most meal categories in the eating out of home, takeaway and delivery sector, alongside a maximum calorie guideline for all categories.

Children’s meal bundles are also being targeted with a 10% calorie reduction ambition set to “reflect progress already made”.

A 10% calorie reduction ambition is recommended for retailers making ready meals, chips and garlic bread, while a 5% ambition target has been set for those making sandwiches and a 20% target for pizza and pastry products.

New voluntary salt reduction goals have also been published encouraging takeaways and restaurants to help consumers reduce their average salt intake from 8.4g per day to 6g.

Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist for PHE, said: “Eating food and drink that’s higher in calories than people realise is one of the reasons why many of us are either overweight or obese.

“This is about broadening choice for consumers, as well as making the healthier choice the easy choice. Progress to date on sugar and salt reduction has shown that this can happen without compromising on taste and quality.”

A range of measures were recently announced as part of the government’s new obesity strategy, including calorie labelling at large restaurants, cafes and takeaways.

The industry’s progress will be monitored against the programme’s ambitions with reports on calorie and salt reduction expected in 2022. The government says it remains committed to further action if results are not seen.

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